While Not Shooting Grouse…

I was out grouse hunting in the mist and showers on Sunday for several hours. Never flushed a bird, even with my faithful yellow Lab, Lucy. At 4 years old, she really knows how to hunt, but she hardly picked up a scent all day.

We did, however, get a limit of "being in the woods." I would much rather have brought home a bird or two for supper, but scenes such as the one above, of a maple branch against the green of summer, helped make up for the hunting. Each fall, a few maples jump the gun, going completely crimson while others are just beginning to turn. I call them "sentinel maples" because they stand out so vibrantly against the residual green of summer.

When we passed this one, on a trail at Canosia Wildlife Management Area north of Duluth, I had to ask Lucy to sit so I could fully appreciate the intensity of the maple.The whole tree was the same color, and it contrasted dramatically with the spruce and balsam fir and alders and aspen around it.

Not that there wasn’t other color. The ferns were anywhere from yellow-gold to mottled to completely brown and shriveling. I mistook several of their hanging boughs for grouse momentarily. The honeysuckle and sarsaparilla in the understory are turning red. And the swamp grasses are a smoky yellow.

I had hoped to encounter a few other hunters on foot or four-wheelers, but the drizzle and the Vikings game must have kept them inside. I saw three bowhunters, but that was it.

I stopped by Chalstrom’s Bait and Tackle on the way home to see if any big bucks had been registered from the Minnesota bowhunt, which began Saturday. A couple of eight-pointers was about it. And about 20 antlerless deer had been registered by hunters in the city of Duluth bowhunt. Those hunters must take at least one antlerless deer before taking a buck. That hunt also began Saturday.